GREATER MOBILE ACCESS IMPROVES PRODUCTIVITY

Giving women greater access to mobile phones and services can push up global productivity by USD 29 billion annually from 2020 onwards, says a report by Vodafone Foundation. "The Vodafone Connected Women report 2014 has found that providing women with greater access to mobile phones and services could lead to a USD 29 billion increase in annual global productivity from 2020, as a result of greater female partnership in the workforce and saving in public services," Vodafone India Managing Director and CEO Marten Pieters said. The report was released here by Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister and Founder of Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. "When we talk about doubling income, we may think they are just numbers but when we see ability of women to feed their children and send them to school, we realise they are not just numbers but this is life changing," Blair said while releasing the report here. Vodafone and Vodafone Foundation are developing new approaches and services tailored to women's needs. The report says that Indian women will be top beneficiary global if programs related to health, education and retail are made available through mobile phones. The report said if its programs related to education are made compatible with feature phones and smart phones, they could reach 7.2 million women by 2020 across Vodafone's markets. "The majority of these customers (around 70 per cent) would be in India, with its large population and high levels of female illiteracy," the report said. The report shows that its health application can benefit women in India, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo where women suffer complications during or immediately after child birth. Blair on the occasion announced expansion of a project that its runs with Vodafone Foundation and Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) in Gujarat to provide benefit to 2,000 women involved in marketing and distribution of farm products though a rural network of women entrepreneurs. In Gujarat, these organisations have developed a mobile application, RUDI Sandesh Vyavhar (RSV), related to their sales transactions which has helped them in increasing their income by up to 4 times. "I am delighted to announce today my foundation in partnership with the Vodafone Foundation and Self-Employed Women's Association, will be expanding this time to reach another 2000, we have reached 2000 and to double our number, not just in Gujarat but in neighbouring state of Rajasthan," Blair said. The report estimated that program similar to RUDI (The rural distribution network) could be rolled out to reach 0.2 million of these women retailers by 2020. "The greatest potential is in India, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, due to the relatively higher number of women working in the informal retail sector in these markets," the report said.

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